Over the years I've had some fun with the topic of customer retention, but from the sarcastic side of life. I first shared this concept a few years ago, but it's time to update my list! I'm back with more ways to lose customers. Sadly, there's nothing on my list I haven't seen happen over the years. People really do this stuff.
The good news is how easy it is to make changes. It takes time and consistency, but if you need to clean up your act a little, it's the "slow season" and what better time to start than right now?
Forty percent of the world's population is on the Internet. In the United States alone we're at eight-nine percent with just under three million Internet active households. And, if you want to check out other countries just click on the graph to the right.
Here's my point - every consumer has incredible reach today. That means for many of them they have the ability to influence thousands of people with just one post or tweet. You'll never be able to please everybody, but you can build a reputation that exceeds client expectations.
Make yourself habit-forming! Be an artist who your clients not only love working with but insist their friends get to know as well. Don't be afraid to show your passion for the craft, capturing memories and your clients. Be an artist who cares.
Your customer doesn’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
I'm up to my usual tricks this morning straying way off the topic of photography. Whatever pops into my mind on a Sunday morning is what I share. So, as usual, once the sun was up so was I and along with a stormy looking morning in South Florida came a thought about time.
As I looked in the mirror this morning, I noticed a two-inch hair growing on the side of my ear! Seriously, when did that happen and where's it been hiding every day? It hit me this morning how fast time seems to fly by as you get older.
In fact, as I look back over the last year, except for the presidential campaign that felt like it would never end, everything in life seems to be going by faster and faster. Twice in the last couple of weeks, I missed things on my calendar, only because when I wrote them down they seemed so far away.
Time management was never my strong suit. In fact, some of my best projects and ideas have come out during a time crunch and that moment when you realize you either get it done NOW or it's not getting done. Well, there's no way to slow down the clock. Time never stands still, and I'm always amazed how so many of us squander it.
I grew up with the joy of having two grandmothers. As Grandma Alice would darn the holes in my socks, she'd remind me "a stitch in time saves nine," and then point out if I'd given her the socks earlier she wouldn't have to rebuild them! (Most of you will have to Google "darning socks" - it's a lost craft. LOL)
Then when I was disappointed in something Grandma Sarah would give me the "don't cry over spilled milk" lecture. Both grandmothers were experts in time management and if you analyze their points - one was about not procrastinating and just getting the job done, while the other was all about not wasting time on things you can't change.
So based on the wisdom of my two grandmothers and few other wonderful people in my life, including my wife Sheila, see if this short list of ideas makes sense:
And last, on my last - live well! By "live well" I'm talking about simply being happy. It's ironic that relatives who don't talk to me anymore because they disagreed with some of my life-changing decisions are also the ones who gave me the plate pictured on the right. The plate has a prominent place in our home, right near the door we go in and out of the most. I see it numerous times a day and it's where my keys, wallet, and sunglasses can always be found.
But it's the word "revenge" I love the most. It's not about revenge for anything that's been done, but for me, it's revenge against time. It's about not wasting a minute with anything less than a smile on my face, or more important to me is trying to always keep that smile in my heart.
I can't stop the clock. I can't slow down the aging process, but I sure can season my life with optimism, hope, compassion and plenty of hugs. Call it sappy, hokey even unrealistic, but it works for me.
So, I wish you a sappy, hokey Sunday, loaded with people you care about and time to enjoy them along with plenty of those therapeutic long hugs.
Happy Sunday everybody!
Note: For those of you who are critics and doubt the value of long hugs, click on the screen shot I took below and read the entire article.
With WPPI 2017 just around the corner it seems appropriate to share the cover of a mailer from the 1999 show. At that time WPPI was at the Rio in Las Vegas and attendance was probably around 2500. I was at Hasselblad then, and along with several other fans, would come in 2-3 days early just to help set up the show. Back then the show was totally driven by family and friends with a group of volunteers that would grow to 100+. This was also the show Don Blair and I introduced his book, "Body Parts," which just recently went back into print.
While a few of the speakers above have passed away, we've also lost a few to career changes, heading off to other industries. However, as much as things change, some things NEVER change and that's the passion every speaker put into their programs and the excitement of the attendees to be together.
Happy Throwback Thursday!
Image copyright Melanie Anderson. All rights reserved.
I started "Why?" to introduce you to the movers and shakers in the industry, never realizing the power of the backstories behind each image. With every image there's been a lesson and today's "Why?" with Melanie Anderson is a perfect example.
Melanie not only shares "Why?" this image is one of her favorites, but her story is the perfect reminder of what photography is all about. I'm often accused of over-using the words "memory-makers," but that's what imaging is all about. So often artists forget about the trust their clients have put in them to capture images that tell a story.
Melanie isn't just a great artist and educator; she's a storyteller. Even without her sound-byte you get part of the story just looking at her image.
If you don't know Melanie, catch her at an upcoming workshop. Click on the image to visit her educational site and put her on your list of people who need to be in your network!
"Consider This," is a series of short weekly posts with things for you to think about. My career is always surprising me with what seems like a never-ending collection of new experiences. So, I want to fill this new feature with ideas to help you learn from my mistakes so you can make new ones of your own!
by Skip Cohen
We’ve all heard the expression, “Hindsight is 20/20.” And, we all know people who are “Monday Morning Quarterbacks.” They swoop in like hawks after their prey with one suggestion after another telling us what we should have done. But worse is what we often do to ourselves, over-focusing on our regrets and then second-guessing future decisions.
Sheila and I have been together as a couple for almost seven years, and I never realized how often I was looking backward at a situation. One day she looked at me and said, “Don’t should on yourself!”
She refuses to take credit for the concept, but since I first heard it from her, it’s become an incredible lesson and changed the way I look at so many situations.
Here’s my point – whether a business decision that didn’t go as planned or something in your personal life “shoulding” is simply a bad habit when not accompanied by a constructive plan to change things.
Here’s a prime example.
Many of you knew me in my role as President of Hasselblad USA. I was with Hasselblad for twelve years and left on great terms to be President of PhotoAlley, an online educational site with a retail store.
When the Internet imploded, just two and a half years later, the two founders couldn’t get us in the black. We were over thirty million dollars in sales, but without profitability. PhotoAlley collapsed and I found myself in the unemployment line. Those were pretty dark days in my career, and I can’t begin to count the number of times I “shoulded” on myself – all about things outside my control.
Well, there’s another thing I’ve learned in life – everything works out for the better. My experience in the Internet was invaluable, as was failing and feeling the pain of having to collect unemployment. However, the experience lead to Rangefinder, AfterCapture, and WPPI and eventually to starting my own company. It all brought me to this point in time right here today.
We can’t help but should on ourselves once in awhile, but for too many of you, it becomes an obsession. You have to take risks in business today to grow, but when they don’t work out the way you planned, figure out what you did wrong and then start again.
Most important of all, you can’t slow down or wait for everything always to be perfect!
If you wait for all the lights to turn green, you’ll never get started on your journey!
"Stop looking for happiness in the same place you lost it!"
I'm back into my Sunday morning routine. Molly, the Wonder Dog, is curled up at my feet and Sheila's still asleep. The house couldn't be quieter as the sun is just starting to come up in South Florida. Having moved in late December, this past week was the first stretch where we got back into a routine - no boxes to unpack, no pictures to hang - nothing to do except enjoying each day.
As I sat down this morning, I knew right away what I wanted to write about. I see so many of you chasing success and missing being happy. Many of you spend each day standing at the dock waiting for your ship to come in when it just might have already arrived.
It's over two years ago that Sandy Puc joined me on Weekend Wisdom. Little did I know this podcast would become a milestone for me, and all because of her honesty. While we didn't start out to define success, that's exactly what the conversation became, and it had happiness at its core.
I'll be the first to admit defining success and being happy are moving targets. They change as you get older. However, I can't help but wonder if I had better understood what I wanted in life, could I have achieved it earlier?
Here's my point - I define success today as waking up every morning with a smile on my face. Success is about being excited to get to work. It's about the creativity that comes when you're relaxed enough to absorb everything going on around you and channel the energy into new projects. It's about appreciating the relationship with friends, family and for me today, especially Sheila.
It's also about looking forward. There are plenty of things I regret in my life, but I can't go back and change them. Since good quotes seem to be playing a role in this morning's post, here's another one:
"The first to apologize is the bravest. The first to forgive is the strongest. The first to forget is the happiest."
Take a little time this week, even right now, to think about your definition of success. Ask yourself what you want out of your business and your life. The two go together in terms of the ingredients for a smile on your face, but they often behave independently.
Success and happiness are about defining your goals. Then comes taking action and making progress to achieve them. Last on the list...they're about being flexible and regularly fine-tuning your journey.
Success is not the key to happiness.
Happiness is the key to success.
If you love what you're doing you will be successful.
Wishing everybody a day filled with smiles, time with family and friends you're closest to and most of all a big smile on your face all day long! Go for at least one eleven-second hug with somebody you care about. Most important of all, give yourself a pat on the back for the reasons behind your smile!
P.S. Sure would like to meet "Anon" some day. He/she sure has written some great quotes!
Image copyright Art Wolfe. All rights reserved.
The original purpose in starting the "Why?" series was to introduce you to photographers who needed to be on your radar, but it's evolved into so much more. Every image is unique, and some of the most respected artists and educators in the world are sharing the backstories about their favorite images.
I consider myself one of the luckiest guys in the industry because I've had an opportunity to work with so many artists in my career and one of them is Art Wolfe. While there's probably very little Art hasn't photographed, most of us know him as one of the leading artists in the outdoor world, and a conservationist, but his work covers so much more.
In Art's about section on his website is a sentence that best describes his work:
"His goal has always been to win support for conservation issues by “focusing on what’s beautiful on the Earth.”
Art Wolfe needs to be on your radar, especially his books and workshops. The only thing more impressive than his images is the passion he has for the craft and helping photographers raise the bar on their images combined with the way they see the world!
Click on Art's image above to visit his website.
Images copyright Nick Vedros. All rights reserved.
With every image, there's a backstory, and with each backstory, we learn a little more about the artist.
Meet Nick Vedros, one of the finest commercial photographers in our industry. When I think back to how long I've known Nick, the things he's doing, thanks to digital today, he was doing manually twenty years ago with film.
Here's a favorite example - the image to the right. He did this for a 1995 Hasselblad ad that included Kodak Ektachrome and Polaroid. He wanted the subject to look like he'd tripped and was falling down the stairs. So he built the set flat on the floor and photographed from above.
The falling subject is actually on a stool, which an assistant is turning from underneath. Dragging the shutter and being a master of lighting, Nick was able to make it look like he was falling. It never occurs to the viewer the whole shoot was done from a horizontal perspective rather than vertical...and that's the creative magic that comes from Nick's mind's eye visions.
The image he's sharing on this episode of "Why?" has a great backstory. It's a testimonial to creativity and technology. Nick explains the process in terrific detail. With the help of digital technology, he's put his dancers on the twelve-inch stage being built to the left!
Check out more of Nick's work with a trip to his website. Just click on the image above and then sit back and just enjoy the work. Nick once told me he was influenced by "The Far Side" and cartoonist Gary Larson. You'll see the connection in the humor, and often quiet wonderful sarcasm, of so much of his work.
Nick is an artist who never compromises on the quality of any image, or his relationships with vendors, clients and especially his friends! And, if you see Nick's name on the program for any convention or conference you're attending, run don't walk to get a seat.
"Consider This," is a series of short weekly posts with things for you to think about. My career is always surprising me with what seems like a never-ending collection of new experiences. So, I want to fill this new feature with ideas to help you learn from my mistakes so you can make new ones of your own!
It was October 1987, and I had accepted the job as President of Hasselblad USA just a few months earlier. I was asked to do an interview with PTN, then one of the two leading trade magazines in photography. The premise of the interview was for me to share my thoughts about Hasselblad and where the company was going in the future.
Well, my ego could not have been bigger or more out of control. I talked about every idea we had in new promotions, products, and educational events. I couldn’t have laid it on thicker or made it sound like every new idea was mine. When the article came out, I immediately sent a copy to my folks. There it was, my headshot and paragraph after paragraph of business wisdom from the new “sheriff in town.”
Then I read what I said and with each sentence became more embarrassed. First, I had shared our entire business plan with our competitors. All they had to do was lay out a calendar with everything I talked about and match their promotional timing with ours.
Second, and even more, embarrassing was my ego and the arrogance I heard in every word! I couldn't have been more full of myself! While I had always thought of myself as a team player, I had never been captain of the team.
It was a hard lesson to learn, but that team at Hasselblad became one of the most amazing groups of people I've ever worked with. Together we established some incredible benchmarks in sales, education and dealer support...and always as a team!
So, here’s the bottom line in today’s post – there’s very little you’ll ever do in life as a sole contributor. No matter what your definition of success might be, it’s going to take a team of people to help you get there. Learn to recognize the effort of everybody involved and share the spotlight when it’s appropriate.
Oh, and one more point – when somebody asks you how things are going just say "Great!" Whether good or bad, nobody needs to hear all the details. You don’t need to share everything! It’s okay to be conservative.
I cannot even imagine where I would be today were it not for
that handful of friends who have given me a heart full of joy.
Let's face it, friends make life a lot more fun.
Charles R. Swindoll
It's anything but a typical Sunday morning, and the reason is the perfect topic for a Sunday Morning Reflections post about the importance of friendships.
Last night Sheila and I drove up to St. Petersburg to the Morean Arts Center. There was a photographic exhibition and my good buddy Brian Malloy was one of 32 artists who had work featured. His award-winning image is on the right, but this post has nothing to do with photography.
In an hour Brian's going to be pulling into our driveway and we're simply going to hang out for the day. His visit got me thinking about how important friendships are. Although Brian and I met years ago at WPPI, the friendship has grown thanks in part to social media.
He's been my number one voluntary proof-reader from hell over the years, regularly finding mistakes I've missed in blog posts and then catching me on an IM on Facebook. Then, Chris Fawkes and I drafted him as an administrator for Facebook Wedding Photographers, (along with Steffi Smith.) Well, somehow he manages to stay on top of everything and be a successful full time working photographer!
The quote I found above couldn't be more appropriate. And, it's true, I have no idea where I would be without that very special handful of friends who have brought laughter, support and trust to my life and Sheila's.
So, hug a friend today! Even it's a virtual embrace via a phone call, make it a point to remind somebody in your life, who's not a relative, they hold a special place of importance in your life and your heart. Yes, it's sappy as hell, but so appropriate.
Happy Sunday everybody!
On December 22 we moved twenty miles south, getting us closer to the ocean, a long time goal for both Sheila and me. In the process of cleaning out files and boxes in the garage and attic, I found one print after another, each perfect for a Throwback Thursday post.
CameraCraftsman is a pretty amazing group of photographers. I was a member for a very short time, but couldn't maintain their meeting requirement. After having no choice but to miss three meetings in a row my membership was terminated. Although no longer a member, I couldn't be more proud to have been involved briefly.
The image is just over seventeen years old and as I looked at I was amazed how many people we've lost, most recently Ken Whitmire. So, from a purely sentimental perspective, check out the people in this group shot. They represent some of the most respected members of the photographic community and deserve so much credit for blazing the path that's become your legacy as a professional photographer today.
Happy Throwback Thursday!
Image copyright Joe Buissink. All rights reserved.
"Why?" is all about the backstories behind the favorite images from some of the most respected artists in professional photography. But they're more than just respected artists, and Joe Buissink is a perfect example.
Joe is an artist, a writer, educator and a great friend to so many of us in the industry. His outlook on life couldn't be more Zen-like. In fact, listen to one of his programs, and there's an inner peace he presents as he talks about being an artist and a profession he dearly loves.
Although Joe and I had been friends for many years and his winning print competition images were all over the halls and walls of Rangefinder Magazine and WPPI, I didn't get to know him until we wrote a book together. That's when I really started to understand the depth of Joe's passion for the craft and technical expertise as we narrowed down thousands of stunning images to 150+ for our book, "Wedding Photography from the Heart."
From the heart, clearly describes Joe's style of photography, including the way he works with clients. As posted on Amazon: "His goal is not necessarily to take technically perfect photos, but to capture the right moments, transforming intimate, emotional memories into timeless images."
Check out more of Joe's work by visiting his website with a click on the image above. And, if you see Joe's name on the speaker platform at any upcoming convention, don't stop at just attending - make it a point to introduce yourself. You couldn't ask to have a better person in your network!
"To dare is to lose one's footing momentarily. Not to dare is to lose oneself."
by Skip Cohen
Over the last few months, simply the result of being busy, I got away from weekly posts based on personal experiences. Well, it's a new year and time to get back on track.
Welcome to "Consider This," a series of short weekly posts with food for thought. My career continues to cover a wide variety of experiences, and I'm hoping this new feature helps you learn from my mistakes so you can make new ones of your own.
When I found the quote above I couldn't help but think about my own career path. The majority of my adult life I only worked for other companies. Yes, I was President of Hasselblad USA, PhotoAlley.com and Rangefinder Publishing/WPPI, but I always wanted to step out on my own, but was too afraid to make a change.
In 2009 after getting divorced, I decided to start my own company. Friends and family thought I was nuts. It was the worst economy in my lifetime. Inspired by so many of you, I wanted to know if I had learned enough in all my years in business to be able to walk the talk. I started Marketing Essentials International, essentially a consulting company and the foundation for my life morphing into a writer and blogger with SCU today.
As I was trying to get the nerve to leave the security of Rangefinder Magazine and WPPI, my now wife Sheila asked me, "What are you afraid of?" My answer was simple, "Failing!" With her help, I spent a long time analyzing my situation and finally took the plunge.
"You can't be that kid at the top of the water-slide, overthinking it. You have to go down the chute!"
And there it is - one big life lesson all summed up in a quote by Tina Fey. (It's hard to believe I even have an image to support her quote. That's me after letting a half-dozen people go ahead of me, including an 85 year old man, who screamed "Life is too short," as he jumped on the water-slide!)
Whether they're big decisions or small ones - learn to analyze risks relatively quickly and then make a decision. Utilize people in your network, especially those in the core group. These are the people closest to you, both personally and professionally.
So many of us spend so much time wanting to change situations, but instead, we procrastinate and never take steps to change our paths. Being in the photography industry is an amazing career choice and loaded with diverse opportunities. If you're not happy with what you're doing and feeling unfulfilled, don't lose yourself and your dreams by wasting time not taking some fresh steps in a new direction.
Consider this, as Sheila said to me in 2009, "What's the worse that can happen?"
There's a point we all get to sometimes that happens when the frustration of unmet expectations subsides and the reality of a specific situation is simply accepted. For me, when it eventually happens there's a big *sigh*, a shrug of the shoulders and acceptance. Here's a prime example:
I'm not supposed to be in my home office this morning, writing a Sunday Morning Reflections. I should be at the Marriott River Center in San Antonio getting ready for the IUSA trade show. It all started with my wife getting sick the night before we were supposed to leave, but then Mother Nature took over. There aren't a lot of flights out of Sarasota without connecting, usually through Atlanta. The weather in Atlanta cancelled hundreds of flights yesterday, but not without creating a little humor in the process.
My congratulations to Delta Messenger for keeping us informed, but check out the two flights we were supposed to be on above. Our original 11:20 am flight left 13 hours late from Sarasota to Atlanta boarding at 12;35 am. While our connecting flight left 7 hours late, but at least 6 hours before we would have made it to Atlanta.
When I called Delta yesterday 50 flights had already been cancelled, but they had "good" news for me. They had us booked on a Sunday morning flight today to San Antonio, since there were no more available flights to San Antonio yesterday. Common sense prevailed. Since we were only going to be at IUSA today and Monday I cancelled the trip.
But here's my point - there was a brief moment when I felt like the world was falling apart. I have been looking foward to the show for months and especially getting time with good friends, having a few business meetings on new projects and just catching up on technology, since this is the first major show after last year's Photokina. My expectations for a great trip had been crushed, and it took me a little while to get out of the funk, but it reminded me of a quote I shared in a tweet last year:
'It's not a bad life, just a bad day!"
The bottom line is we're all caught in situations from time to time when we have absolutely no control over the outcome. We can't do anything to change the path we're on except to enjoy the ride.
So, that leaves me with my usual wishes for all of you this Sunday. Make it a great day. Hug somebody close to you for at least eleven seconds and remember, no matter how disappointed you might be when something doesn't work out, teach yourself to just roll with it.
For me yesterday, the humor of Delta's technology helped a lot. We laughed every time I got an update telling us our flight had been changed. And that brings me to one other point this morning - learn to laugh! Laugh at yourself and find the humor in the toughest situations. Alfred E. Neuman had it right!
Happy Sunday everybody - make it a day to remember!
Intro by Skip Cohen
My good buddy Scott Bourne wrote this for the launch of SCU four years ago. Reading through it this morning, it couldn't be more valid. Although a piece of Scott's approach in this post is more commercial/fine art in nature, the foundation for pricing is the same. I wish I could get every photographer to read this, regardless of their specialty.
It's time for so many of you to stop waiting for the "Profit Fairy" to sprinkle her magic dust on your business. The truth is, improving profitability is relatively easy, but you have to take the time to think it through, starting with your goals.
Pricing is the "Achille's Heel" for so many of you. You price things based on what you think they're worth without any regard to your actual costs. To paraphrase something Sal Cincotta once said,
"Nothing can screw up your business more than bad pricing!"
And here's one more gem from an industry leader. Denis Reggie made this comment in a workshop at least twenty years ago, and I never forgot it:
"Don't price your work on what you can afford. It was years before I could afford myself!"
It's a new year and in 2017 let's get your business on the right track and start paying attention to pricing and your bottom line. Your top line (gross sales) is meaningless because it's not how much you make, but how much you keep. And, unless your goal is to become a formal 501c3 non-profit, making money isn't something to be ashamed about.
This is the first business day of the new year, and for many of you, it's still part of the holiday weekend. Take the time to think about your business and the importance of profitability. Let's get you out of macaroni & cheese every night and into a steak now and then!
By Scott Bourne
Pricing photography is the second hardest thing you will ever do as a professional photographer. (Finding the right clients is the first hardest.) It’s very easy to make mistakes when pricing and once they’re made, it’s hard to recover from them. So start out right.
One disclaimer: Not every pricing method works for every photographer. Much depends on the current state of the market and the genre (i.e., wedding, commercial, fine art, food, etc.) I’ll try to stick to some universal ideas in these posts.
Start at the Beginning: You can’t effectively price your work until you understand what it is you’re selling.
You are not selling square inches of paper for the cost of printing them. For some reason, the first element that seems to enter some photographers’ minds when making a pricing decision is the size of the print. This “brick wall” has cost many photographers money. The most important thing to keep in mind is the value of your work, not the size of the print. You build this value by evaluating ALL the factors that go into making a salable image.
So what are you selling? How about your creativity and unique ability to capture something that others do not see? Anyone can buy a camera, but can they capture the image exactly the way you do? How about the time you have invested in training for the moment when you captured the image? That time needs to be taken into consideration. Your mechanic, doctor, accountant, and lawyer all get paid for the time they spend doing the work. Shouldn’t you be paid too? You also have to consider the level of your present technical ability. The casual amateur should not be able to get the most out of the same equipment as an experienced professional. And speaking of equipment, you must also take into consideration the value of your gear. So, as you are deciding how to price your work, make sure you take into account and charge for your logistical skills, experience, time and your ability to translate your client’s desires into a visual statement.
Know what you’re selling before you try to sell it. This will help you avoid many mistakes later.
Pricing Economics: In order to price something well, you must know the economics. Here are some key things to keep in mind:
B) Profit margin
C) The market you are serving
Calculating your overhead requires that you consider all the costs that are associated with being a professional photographer. This includes:
A) Equipment depreciation
E) Legal fees
F) Accounting fees
G) Payroll fees
O) Office supplies
Q) Professional dues
Calculating your profit may be a bit easier. You consider your cost of doing business by allowing for a percentage of your overhead to be applied to the cost of each job. From there, mark up your price to include a standard profit margin. This can be based on any number you want but a good starting point is to double the cost of your product (100 percent profit margin).
Now you also need to adjust this figure based on the market type you are serving. Is the image being used in a small or large market? Will thousands of people see it or just a few? What is the perceived value to the client? How does the client plan to use your image? Who is your competition and what choices does your client have besides you for this type of image? Are there 50 photographers in the mix or only two or three? Consider these factors to calculate your fee.
When you sell or license an image, it is likely that you will have to negotiate the price with a savvy photo buyer. Knowing how to negotiate can save you time, money and help you close profitable deals. Remember that negotiating is just problem solving. Both parties have something they need to accomplish and the negotiation makes it happen.
You must not take ANY of the issues that arise during a negotiation personally. The buyer is supposed to try to get the best deal that he or she can. That’s their job. Your job is the same.
The essential steps in the negotiating process are: establish rapport, gather information, do research, ask questions, and let the buyer do most of the talking. In any negotiation, the person who listens most is likely to gain more. In any negotiation, it’s always very important that you do more listening than talking. Otherwise, you will miss important clues, both physical and verbal, that will help you resolve the deal.
Before quoting a price, you must try to educate the client and build the value of the image you are selling. Make sure that the client understands the effort, time and expense you invested to make this image. If the image is truly one-of-a-kind or was made at personal risk, those factors translate directly into the value of what you have for sale.
Try to encourage the client to place an opening bid. If the buyer is the first one to name a price, I believe you will be rewarded with a higher fee. A good way to open the negotiation process is to ask a question like, “What’s the most you would be willing to pay to use my image or purchase my print?” If you are forced to begin the negotiation process by offering a figure, an alternative is to begin with a number that is twice your standard price plus 10 percent. Once this figure is given, you can work down from there.
But remember, if you give a number first, you run the risk of quoting a price that is much lower than the buyer was willing to pay, and you’ll never know what figure they were willing to pay. So, let your clients do the talking. Then, you should listen, take notes, and preferably wait for them to tell you what they can afford.
If the client has pricing objections, be sure to return to the rapport building and value enhancement stages outlined above. Usually, a price objection really means that there is another piece of information you have not uncovered. It is likely that there is something else you have not offered that the client really wants or needs. This is why it’s crucial to listen more than you talk and ask plenty of questions to uncover hidden needs.
Once you have taken all the necessary steps, be sure to ask for the order. A surprising number of photographic sales don’t happen simply because the seller has forgotten to ask for the sale.
(NOTE: Negotiating with magazines is not possible unless you are a famous photographer with images that are in great demand. When you approach magazines, understand that you will only get paid their standard rates.)
The new year is off to a great start - I slept in on the first day of 2017. Now granted, it was only until 8:00 am, but that's a far cry from the usual 6:30 - 7:00 am. Besides, we almost made it to midnight on New Year's Eve. At 11:30 we chose to go to bed! Seriously, I loved living in California because at 9:00 pm we'd watch the ball go down in Times Square and everybody would go home. My priorities as I age seem to be getting more and more pathetic! LOL
I'm sitting in my "new" home office. We finished the move in record time - eight days from the time the movers left to all pictures hung, boxes unpacked and almost knowing where everything is. What's been most fun about this move is what we chose to take and how each corner of the house has something of special meaning.
Sitting here this morning, I'm surrounded by great memories. Images from friends on the walls, memorabilia from past conventions and special events on the book shelves and an endless stream of reminders that the best thing about this industry is the friendships.
The signed Steve McCurry image (sorry about the reflective glass) was a gift from Catherine Hall years ago, but the image itself has always been significant because it's McCurry's, an artist I've admired for years. It's also a testimonial to his skill set. He never anticipated that single image would become one of the most iconic portraits in the world.
The typewriter was my "Uncle Joe's." My grandfather on my Dad's side passed away long before my parents were married. My grandmother remarried Joe Morgenstern, and he was pretty special.
While I know he passed away when I was around four, I still remember taking walks around Shaker Square in Cleveland with him and being sent to the cashier at the counter of a restaurant that was in a basement, with a nickel to buy him a cigar.
The portrait of me, with Sheila in the background, was done by our good friend Elena Hernandez from Dallas. She captured the moment at the Signature Hotel in Las Vegas during a WPPI convention.
I wrote a blog post about it last March. This was captured in between the two doorways going in and out of the Signature. If you know Elena, then you also know there's no shortage of creativity when it comes to her portraits. With one click of the shutter, she managed to capture one of my most favorite portraits of Sheila and me.
Here's the link to the blog post and the pictures of the doorway where she captured the image.
The lightbulb, dedicated to Sheila and me, could well be one of the most unique gifts we've ever received.
It's eclectic and pure fun, but that's also the way I'd define the friendship with Joe Elario who sent it to us. We met back in my Hasselblad days. Once a year at the New York show we'd catch up and talk about the previous year as if the last sentence from the year before ended with a comma.
Over the years, "JP," just a teenager when we first met at the convention, came into the business and the two of them have become one of the strongest father-son teams in professional photography today.
Over the years, Joe and I have made it a point to get out to dinner and share more time together outside conventions. Nothing beats great friendships!
The pocket watch was my grandfather's. He's the one I never met before my "Uncle Joe" came into the family. My Dad gave me the watch, and I was able to find the original 1927 Gruen ad on eBay. By the way, the watch keeps perfect time!
Last but not least, is Dad's fraternity paddle. When being punished once, my Dad came into my room and closed the door. He said, "I know you understand what you did was wrong and your mother wants you to get a few swats from the paddle. So, when I hit my leg you'd better cry like there's no tomorrow."
I'm sure I'm not the only one who has fun with memories and maybe that's a small part of each new year - looking at the journeys from our past.
Happy New Year everybody! Wishing you a year (not just the usual Sunday) filled with achieving your dreams or at least getting you closer to your goals. I hope it's a year of good health and minimal moments of sadness. However, when sadness does enter your life, I hope it's with the support of great people to lean on.
And as always on Sunday's, wishing you time with those most important in your life and plenty of those eleven-second hugs. Thank you for the way you've enriched my life and supported one project after another. 2017 is going to be a fantastic year for all of us!
Happy New Year!